The Student Loan Pause Is Ending. This Mom of 3 Who Paid Down $30K During the Freeze Has Tips for Making Extra Money

A photo of Latasha Peterson Courtesy of Latasha Peterson
After struggling to make progress on her $200,000 in student loan debt, Latasha Peterson got serious about turning her blog into an additional income stream.
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August 24th, 2022 Update: President Joe Biden has announced forgiveness of $10,000 in student debt for borrowers earning under $125,000/year and households earning under $250,000/year. Borrowers who received a Pell Grant will receive $20,000 of forgiveness. The payment freeze on student loans will have its seventh and final extension; student loan payments will resume on December 31st, 2022.

You know the system is broken when a performing arts degree costs $200,000.

“I felt like I was in a cage,” says Latasha Peterson. “I left college with a pile of debt.” The wife and mother of three struggled for years to make real progress on her enormous student loan bill. Something needed to change.

For over two years, federal student loan payments have been paused, and it appears likely President Biden will extend the pause a seventh time later this month. Millions of Americans anxiously await potential forgiveness legislation, a campaign promise that Biden promoted during his election campaign in 2020. 

Peterson isn’t one of them. She took matters into her own hands and got serious about her debt management. After gaining traction with her finances, fellow performing artists and creatives began asking her how she was making ends meet. The inbound interest motivated her to create Arts & Budgets, a blog of resources to help people create profitable businesses and additional income streams.

“I saw a struggle,” she says. “I saw the problem, and it developed a passion in me to help individuals find legit ways to make more money.” @ArtsAndBudgets now averages $10,000 a month in income from ten different revenue streams, and the mompreneur has used the extra funds to pay down $30,000 of her debt over the last 13 months.

If you’re tired of waiting on student loan legislation and want to start taking action now, here’s what Peterson wants you to know about starting a side hustle and working towards financial independence.

“It’s More Time Than Money Invested at the Beginning”

Growing up, debt was seen as normal in Peterson’s household, and she says she wasn’t taught how to manage money. After college, she found herself juggling over $10,000 in credit card debt and roughly $200,000 in student loan debt with no savings.

Related: 4 Signs Biden Will Extend the Student Loan Payment Pause Again

“I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “So, I quit while my husband continued to work in corporate America. My passion for work never went away, though.” Peterson and her husband started their debt payoff strategy by taking an inventory of the household’s finances.

“Money was tight, and we only had $100 in our account at one point,” she says. “But my husband and I buckled down and set a budget. We really looked at our numbers, started scaling back, and committed to monthly meetings. We didn’t do this when we first got married, but I really wish we had. We started to spend with purpose – every dollar had a purpose.” 

Related: My Side Hustle Pays Me $4,300 a Month, But I’m Not Putting a Penny of It Towards My $208,000 Student Loan Debt. Here’s Why

She Researched Ways to Make Money Blogging

Latasha also started taking her blog more seriously as a way to bring in additional income. 

“It was very busy at first, but I worked with my husband to figure out my schedule,” she says. “In the beginning, it’s more time than money invested with blogging. I’m very big on schedules, but it was very challenging at the beginning. However, we got into the rhythm of things after about two to three months.”

Peterson focused on several different blog monetization strategies, including display ads, affiliate marketing, and selling digital products. She also prioritized boosting traffic to her website.

Related: How to Make Money From Blogging in 5 Steps, According to 4 Experts Who’ve Done It

Over time, her efforts paid off. She increased her blogging income to over $5,000 in January 2021, which she used to start tackling debt, and now sees earnings of $10,000 or more each month. 

“I continued working with my husband each week to create a schedule that allowed me to spend at least two to three hours each weekday working on the blog,” she says. “We also worked together as a team to make sure we stuck with our budget and rewarded ourselves each time we met a debt payoff milestone.” 

Her Advice For Starting a Money-Making Blog to Achieve Financial Freedom

Peterson has paid off all her credit card debt and made tremendous progress towards eliminating those pesky student loans. She believes that with patience and consistency, anyone can start a money-making blog to meet their financial goals.

“While it doesn’t take a large investment to start a blog, it takes a ton of time when you’re just starting out,” she says. “But if you just stay consistent and keep writing great content for your direct target audience, you’ll see results for sure. If you want to fast track things, invest in a blogging coach or mentor with a proven track record or a great blogging course.” Peterson recommends focusing on great content and learning about important blog concepts such as keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO).

Pro Tip

Earning money from a blog takes time, but you can expedite the process by focusing on your niche, target audience and investing in a reputable blogging coach. Blogging courses are also an affordable way to level up your blogging knowledge and monetize sooner. 

Most importantly, Peterson urges other bloggers not quite getting the results they want to keep at it.

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle,” she says. “There will be days where the going may get tough, but you can turn a blog into a profitable business and start reaching your financial goals. You have to stay consistent.”

“If I can do it, anyone can do it.”